I’m sure other writers go through phases where their output waxes or wanes; I know I have. But this time was different. The specter of quitting what I do has never haunted my thoughts, but self-doubt more than took its place. I even took to procrastinating when it came to writing, something I rarely did in previous years.
Either I’m losing my touch, or my mind needs more time to realize these stories on a subconscious level. We write stories based on our experiences in the real world, and I’ve been trying to tackle deeper, more ‘cerebral’ material instead of the action/adventure stories I typically write. Perhaps, in going for more depth, I’ve had to explore my own psychological depths. One would think that requires more gestation time for such stories. This isn’t an excuse for writing less this year: I haven’t lost any of my excitement for the craft, for science fiction and the genre at large, or for fandom.
I’m hoping this is part of my evolution as an author, and that I come out of it stronger and more focused. I intend for it to be.
As this year draws to a close, I’m roughly halfway through another first draft, AFTERWORLD. I wrote a synopsis as a guideline, and I have the overall plot envisioned. Pretty typical for me, since I’m a panster anyway. All I will say about AFTERWORLD is that it’s a ‘post-human’ story, set far into the future at a point where humanity is extinct. The main characters are all biomechanical. This has led me to think more about how we humans express ourselves, how we see the world, and the things we take for granted, more than ever before. Even though I’m well into the first draft, new ideas are still coalescing in my mind. Should I take this narrative route, or that one? I don’t find these questions to be obstacles, but they have caused me to slow my progress and ponder certain issues a little more before returning to the manuscript.
Before this year, I would have cautioned against such a thing. Usually, once I’ve started a new story, I don’t stop until it’s finished. For a novel, that meant not pausing to reconsider character motivations or plot maturation. I simply charged ahead. And that has always given me grief when revising my first drafts into second ones. Maybe now, I’m finally slowing down so that I can craft better stories, and get more of it right the first time around. If I were superstitious, I’d say this is my muse striking back, after I’ve sent her changing through the burning ruins of Pansterville for years.
Anyway. I plan to complete the initial draft of AFTERWORLD before 2017 finally ends. I’m excited for 2018. I’m ready for the muse to kick my ass from one globular star cluster to the next, because, even though I’ve slowed down for a while, I’m not giving up.